The First Goodbye: Handling Separation Anxiety With Your Baby

by - 8/02/2017 10:48:00 PM

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The first time you leave your baby at home, and in the care of someone else, can be a stressful and almost painful experience. The cries and confusion, or the restless anxiety of not being there in case something happens, have gotten the best of many parents before us. You don’t have to give completely up on leaving the house without the little one, though, and experts as well as seasoned parents have a lot of insightful advice to share to calm your nerves - and make reality kick those strong emotions aside for a moment.

Why all this talk about separation anxiety?

For most parents, the experience of having to trust someone else comes already during infancy. While most babies younger than seven and eight months will do alright when you’re not around, unless you’re nursing, the painful confusion tends to kick in around this age.

Before this, they’re not quite able to grasp the concept of your existence when you’re not around them; development psychology calls it a state of symbiosis, where the infant has concluded that you’re not separate beings at all, as much as you are the same.

Find the right timing

As soon as they’ve understood that, when you leave, you’re somewhere else, the trouble begins. The pain and suffering might last up until their first birthday, so it’s a good idea to read up on the subject and learn as much as possible. It will make it easier for you, as a parent, to cope with the turbulence as well as understanding your baby’s behavior.

Talk to your baby or toddler about what’s happening a day or two before you plan to head out; you might think she is too young to understand, but your calm voice and steady attitude will send soothing signals to her.

You should avoid leaving if she has experienced a traumatic change, such as if you have recently been moving house or gone through weaning. If your child is a particularly bad case, you might consider waiting with all of this until the first birthday has passed.

Find the right people

When the time does come, it’s best to leave your baby in the care of someone she knows well and in a house, she’s used to being in. Everything else changes when you leave, and you should try to maintain as much familiarity as possible.

Another family member is the perfect choice for a baby sitter, such as her grandparents or an uncle. Before leaving, make sure she has everything she needs, such as baby comforters to help her sleep, as well as something to remind her of you while you’re gone; a picture of you to look at, a video, or a blanket that smells like you are excellent choices.

If you’re particularly nervous about all of this, it’s a good idea to rehearse the separation a couple of times in advance. It will help both you to get used to this new and adventurous time and may make you feel more confident about it.  

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